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  • 5 Tips to Communicate More Effectively

    If you haven’t heard about the napping transit worker who was caught on TwitPic and the firestorm of controversy that ensued, there’s a lesson to be learned: it only takes one tweet to capture you a moment that kills your personal brand. Which got me thinking about another medium that quickly spreads: email.

    Take 5 to positively reflect your personal brand

    All of your emails, messages and written communications become permanent touchpoints for your personal brand. You don’t know who will end up reading it: someone may invisibly bcc a colleague, forward on your message or even accidentally read over it over the intended recipient’s shoulder. No matter the case, follow the five rules below to demand respect and ensure your emails positively reflect your personal brand.

    1. Simple is better. Have you ever written a sentence and then said, “What I am really trying to say is: ‘xyz?’” Forget the complicated wording and just say xyz. Strive for clarity. Avoid complexity. Always look back to see what you can cut out before hitting send.

    2. Anticipate questions and provide answers. People are busy. Save everyone’s time by anticipating and preemptively answering questions that might arise. The less Jennifer Co-Worker has to come back for clarifications, the more time she has to do her job. Help her by providing more than enough information in case she needs it.

    For example: “Jen, I just finishing taking notes on the guerrilla marketing tactics PDF (www.guerrilla.com/pg2.htm) you showed me on Tuesday. The notes I took outline some new tactics we might be able to use. You can find the notes, called ‘New Guerrila Tactics.doc’ here: http://companyx.com/internaldocs”

    Notice what I provided Jen:

    • The day Jen showed me the PDF, to jog her memory in case she forget what article I was talking about
    • The URL of the PDF, in case she wants to take a look at it again
    • The content of the notes I took
    • The name of the document containing my notes
    • The location where I uploaded the notes

    I have just saved Jen and myself a lot of time by providing that information up front. I answered any potential questions she could have before they popped up: what article are you talking about? Where did you upload the notes? I eliminated potential back-and-forth emails that would waste both of our time.

    3. Avoid common mistakes that make you look dumb. You’ve heard this one before, but a surprising number of people still don’t do it. Spell check! Don’t just scan the document and call it a day. Let your computer’s spell-checker do the initial dirty work. After confirming the changes, re-read for mistakes such as using “too” instead of “to,” “effect” instead of “affect,” or “you’re” instead of “your.” See CopyBlogger’s 5 Common Mistakes That Make You Look Dumb.

    4. Take a moment before responding to angry emails. One of the virtues of a professional is the ability to remain calm under pressure. If you receive a nasty email, stop for a minute. Imagine yourself one year in the future, looking back at how you responded. Did you remain poised? Or did you weaken your personal brand by lashing out? Responding to an email in hotheaded haste will make people think you are disrespectful – a label that’s nearly impossible to remove after it’s been given. Also keep in mind how easy it is to misinterpret the emotions of an email. Text can only convey words, not feelings. The person at the other end might not have been angry at all, even if it appeared that way on paper.

    5. Communicate frequently. Send thank you emails immediately after meeting new people. Ask your superior questions. Provide articles your co-workers will find useful (but don’t spam them with pictures of cats). Use frequent and strong communication to progress within your company.

    Communication skills are essential to your personal brand. What’s your philosophy on writing emails? Business is about people talking to people. Make sure when others talk about you, they’re mentioning the aspects of your personal brand you want to be remembered for, like clarity, simplicity, level-headedness and professionalism.

    Author:

    Pete Kistler is a leading Online Reputation Management expert for Generation Y, a top 5 finalist for Entrepreneur Magazine’s College Entrepreneur of 2009, one of the Top 30 Definitive Personal Branding Experts on Twitter, a widely read career development blogger, and a Judge for the 2009 Personal Brand Awards. Pete manages strategic vision for Brand‐Yourself.com, the first online reputation management platform for job applicants, named one of the Top 100 Most Innovative College Startups in the U.S.

    avatar

    Pete Kistler is a top 5 finalist for Entrepreneur Magazine's College Entrepreneur of 2009, a leading Online Reputation Management expert for Generation Y, one of the Top 30 Definitive Personal Branding Experts on Twitter, a widely read career development blogger for Brand-Yourself.com, and a Judge for the 2009 Personal Brand Awards. As CEO, Pete manages strategic vision for Brand‐Yourself.com, the world's first online reputation management platform for job applicants, named one of the Top 100 Most Innovative College Startups in the U.S. He has won a number of top honors for his writing, presentations and business plans.

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    6 comments on “5 Tips to Communicate More Effectively
    1. avatar
      EXPERT
      Drew Carls says:

      Pete – thanks. Good reminders for e-mail. My pet peeve is #2. Adding in this information makes receiving lots of e-mails less time-consuming.

    2. avatar
      EXPERT

      Thanks Pete. Great post. #4 is a lesson that’s so important to learn. In the miscommunications with clients there’s often a chance to get self-righteously indignant and get angry on the call. It’s far better to wait, let the heat go out of it and address the topic with a cooler head. Things always look different the next day. Thanks again for the reminder, Simon Mainwaring

    3. avatar
      EXPERT

      Thanks, Pete. #4 is a great reminder. Too often it’s easy to lose your cool with a client when it’s better to wait till the next days before responding. it can be the difference between seeing things clearly and keeping the client. Thanks fort the reminder, Simon Mainwaring

    4. avatar
      EXPERT
      Meg Guiseppi says:

      Hi Pete!

      You covered the bases so well on emailing best practices.

      I especially appreciate your #2. There’s nothing more infuriating to me than receiving a one-word response to an email I’ve sent to someone that addressed several issues. When I’ve asked someone 3 or 4 questions and get back an email that simply says “Yes”, I’m completely befuddled and have to take the time to email them again. GRRR!

      Thanks!

      Meg Guiseppi
      C-level / Senior Executive Personal Branding, Online Identity & Job Search Strategist

    5. avatar
      EXPERT
      Todd Smith says:

      Pete, Great tips. I think one of the most important points in building your brand through emails is to be friendly. Take the time to type an extra sentence or two to show your interest in the person. The extra 30 seconds is worth it!

      Thanks Pete for taking your time to help us!

    6. avatar
      EXPERT
      Pete Kistler says:

      Drew, you’re right – everybody loves an empty inbox! The less back-and-forth, the better.

      Simon, I couldn’t have said it better myself: “things always look different the next day.” Don’t let one emotional moment mar your professionalism forever. Take a deep breath, walk away, and come back after you’ve cleared your head.

      Meg, so true! It can be insulting to get a one-word response when you’ve put in the time to cover multiple points, especially when you need those points addressed individually.

      Todd, absolutely. Especially with new contacts, you should always type an extra sentence to take an interest in what they’re doing.

      - Pete Kistler
      CEO, Brand-Yourself.com

    4 Pings/Trackbacks for "5 Tips to Communicate More Effectively"
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    2. [...] smart and know what they are talking about!  This is exactly how I feel about Pete Kistler‘s latest post on Dan Schwabel‘s Personal Branding Blog:  Five Types to Communicate More [...]

    3. [...] smart and know what they are talking about!  This is exactly how I feel about Pete Kistler‘s latest post on Dan Schwabel‘s Personal Branding Blog:  Five Types to Communicate More [...]

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